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2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid test drive

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid rear seating

Lots of rear seat wiggle room.

photo © Adrian Gable

Motion Potion: Easy on the eyes and the earth

Nissan’s Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT) is designed for maximum fuel efficiency and proves to be as smooth as silk. This car's powertrain gives an utterly satisfying driving experience—especially with the fuel economy numbers this baby churned out. The electric motor produces high torque at low rpm which is why it can go from a standing idle through initial acceleration without the gasoline engine’s help.

On a hot 91 degree afternoon, Scott had A/C on the whole way home from work—and the car still regularly cycled into EV mode just as it does when the A/C wasn’t on. He sat through several traffic lights and stop signs, and the compressor just kept on running—EV mode active—until the battery charge dropped too low. Yes, the A/C can run with the engine off—if you’re puzzling how, it’s simple really—the compressor is driven by its own electric motor, not a belt from the engine.

During cruising we noted that the effects of the regenerative braking can be felt a bit more if the throttle is released abruptly—it drops the RPMs down. According to Nissan, “the Regenerative Cooperative Brake System calculates braking force generated by brake pedal operation and controls the regenerative brake force to convert kinetic energy into electric energy, optimizing energy regeneration.” Overall, this whole system is as smooth as butter. Just delicious.

Continued below...

The Enviro-meter: An AT-PZEV with attitude

It goes without saying that full hybrids go further on a gallon of gas than mild hybrids. Yes, they cost a bit more, but give a better return on the investment. With the Altima Hybrid’s 20-gallon tank boasting a 700-mile range, you’ll slash your monthly fuel budget and carbon footprint. With our average fuel economy ringing in at 33.6 on mixed city and country motoring, the Altima gave a perfect combination of performance and economy.

Compare that to 26.1 average mpg for a regular Altima, with a range of 522 miles. According to fueleconomy.gov, the Altima Hybrid’s petroleum oil consumption is about 10.1 barrels of crude annually—compared to 13.2 barrels for the conventional Altima. Driving an average of 15,000 miles per year, greenhouse gas emissions for the hybrid tally up to 5.4 tons/year, where the regular Altima will spew out a higher 7.1 tons/year.

The Altima Hybrid is an Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) and meets California emissions requirements. It is for sale in the eight states that have adopted the CA regulations: CA, CT, ME, MA, NJ, NY, RI and VT. Anytime you can extend gasoline’s driving range—and utilize zero emission driving modes as the Altima does, it’s definitely a move in the right direction. It’s that sleek sophistication with a green streak that makes it a winner—this is indeed the eco-minded model for those that love Nissan’s performance.

When it's all said & done: Makin’ excuses to go places

This Altima Hybrid is everything folks have loved in the conventional Altima (the 2006 model is the 3rd best-selling car), and more. Yes, the 2007 hybrid model ups the ante for mid-size car buyers as the sixth model in the 2007 Altima lineup. Creature comforts have blended with current hybrid technology to create one bad to the bone set of wheels. We both looked forward to driving this hybrid every day. Hey, we even made excuses just to go places in this car. All in all, we were sorry to see this car go—it was a week that went too fast—it brought alive everything we’ve always loved about driving, ever since that first learner’s permit.

And yes, good news: the Altima Hybrid cruised easily up our driveway in EV mode. Smooth and easy. Oh, and by the way, what color do you think Christine should choose?

Pros:

  • Peppy and fun to drive—with endless torque
  • Full hybrid fuel efficiency
  • Swoopy, sexy design

Cons:

  • Still uses gasoline
  • Ride in back seat a tick stiff
  • Hybrid battery eliminates a fold-down rear seat
Check out what’s involved in maintaining a hybrid vehicle and keeping it running its best.

Who Should Buy the Nissan Altima Hybrid: Everyone in the market for a midsize sedan—and especially those who want to make driving fun again, plus extend their fuel mileage.

Who Should Not Buy the Nissan Altima Hybrid: Folks who would rather be driving blasé, “it’s-just-a-car” and don’t mind fueling up more often.

Rebate & Credit Run-down: Free fuel for the second year

Buy the Altima Hybrid and you’re qualified for a $2,350 tax credit. This, coupled with the hybrid’s first year’s fuel savings of $385 (compared to driving 15,000 miles in a conventional Altima) will negate the $540 hybrid price premium (as compared to a 2.5-liter Altima S with SL package), and count your second year’s fuel as paid for by the IRS.


Details and Specs:

Technical Features: 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine, Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT), anti-locking braking system (ABS), traction control system (TCS)

Safety Features: driver & front passenger dual-stage airbags and seat belt sensors, front seat side-impact supplemental airbags and standard side-impact curtain airbags, lower anchors & tethers for children (LATCH)

Interior Features: Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, dual zone temperature control, power door locks and windows

Exterior Features: P215/60R all-season tires, 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, dual power sideview mirrors

The Altima Hybrid in Nissan’s North America Manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Page One: Initial Impressions, Insider's View and Fuel-ability

Photos from the 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid test drive and review

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